The Kerala government on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court seeking to quash an FIR (first information report) registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the LIFE Mission housing project. This comes after the Kerala High Court dismissed a petition by the state government seeking the same on Tuesday.
'LIFE Mission’ is a state housing project initiative started by the Kerala government with the UAE Red Crescent Authority (a voluntary organisation), to provide shelter to the homeless. Apart from CBI, the Enforcement Directorate is also probing a money laundering case surrounding the same accused.
In its order on Tuesday, the Kerala HC had however given some relief to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. While it refused to stay the CBI probe, it said, “It is not permissible to extend criminal liability on the political executive merely because they have taken a policy decision and proactive steps in the project implementation.”
What is the case about?
The CBI had registered a case in July,2020 against the state government based on a complaint by Congress MLA Anil Akkara. Anil had sought proceedings against the government against alleged quid pro quo by top officials of the government and a private contractor. The FIR has been registered under Section 120 B of the IPC and Section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. As earlier reported Santosh Eappen, Managing Director of Unitac Builder, has been named as the first accused and Sane Ventures as the second accused. Unitac was given the LIFE Mission contract to build housing complexes and a health centre in Wadakkanchery.
The Congress MLA in his complaint had stated that Unitac had paid Rs 3 crore and 80 lakhs to Swapna Suresh - accused in the Kerala Gold Smuggling case - and others in the UAE Consulate for giving them the project and acting as liaisons. The CBI’s case is that Swapna took the money at the behest of M Sivasankar, an IAS officer who was Principal Secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan.